IRL: Notebook 2002-10-24

Falcon crunching numbers to build new car; Boat eager for 2003 INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2002 -- MK Racing, which is producing the new Falcon chassis for Indy Racing League competition, has a two-fold challenge during this ...

Falcon crunching numbers to build new car; Boat eager for 2003

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2002 -- MK Racing, which is producing the new Falcon chassis for Indy Racing League competition, has a two-fold challenge during this offseason.

First, the company is producing its first IRL chassis. Its fellow league chassis builders, Dallara and Panoz G Force, have produced IRL cars since 1997.

Second, Falcon engineers and designers are working hard on computers and in the wind tunnel in their Concord, N.C., headquarters to find the tiny secrets of speed that can help its cars go faster, just like Dallara and Panoz G Force personnel are doing.

"We're in the wind tunnel for days and days trying to find two pounds of drag or a couple pounds of downforce," said Ken Anderson, co-owner of MK Racing with Michael Kranefuss.

While new, the Falcon car does have a wealth of knowledge on its design and engineering staff. Anderson designed the successful G Force IRL chassis in 1997 and has extensive experience as an engineer, designer and technical director in many different forms of motorsports, from motocross to Formula One.

"Really, what we have to do is we have to be able to define tenths of a percent gain or loss and try to stack them all in the right direction," Anderson said. "We certainly have ideas. It's basic physics. Our car is going to be as small as it can be with the least amount of drag. The (center of gravity) is going to be as low as possible. Just as the basic fundamentals, I think we'll be in really good shape there.

"Then it's up to the teams to get the most out of it and us to support them with the information that they need to win races."

The first Falcon IRL car is scheduled to be unveiled in November.

***

Boat eyes 2003: Despite finishing a disappointing 13th in the Indy Racing League standings in 2002, veteran Billy Boat was encouraged about the progress of the first-year CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team and is looking forward to 2003.

Boat, a former USAC short-track star from Phoenix, produced a best finish of seventh in June at Texas in his CURB Records entry. The team decided to switch to Infiniti power midway through the season, which helped Boat qualify in the top 10 four times in the last seven races, including winning the MBNA Pole at Nashville.

"We've taken the team up a notch since the beginning of the season, we've improved a lot, and we've really got the potential for big triumphs," Boat said. "Unfortunately, we've had some bad luck and some persistent gremlins, so we don't have a lot of results to show for it.

"We learned a lot as a team this year. We started as the inexperienced underdogs with big hopes and ended the season as real contenders for the podium. There's no reason that we won't be up front from the beginning next year.

"I think everyone's a lot more confident and feels a real sense of accomplishment and achievement when they look back on the 2002 season. We're really looking forward to Florida in March. We'll be back next year, and we'll be back bigger and stronger than ever."

The 2003 Indy Racing League season starts March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

***

Fike racing in New Zealand: Infiniti Pro Series driver Aaron Fike will compete in the International Midget test teams winter series Dec. 21, 2002-Jan. 4, 2003 in New Zealand. Teams from New Zealand, Australia and the United States each will field five cars, with the drivers racing for top international honors.

Fike, who won the Chicagoland 100 Infiniti Pro Series event Sept. 8 while driving for Hemelgarn 91/Johnson Motorsports, will be joined in New Zealand by fellow USAC standouts Dave Darland, Tracy Hines and Tony Elliott, as well as his brother, A.J. Fike.

USAC, the Australian Racing Authorities and the New Zealand Speedway Control Board recognize the international test series as an official event. New Zealand has staged international midget racing events since 1935 and international teams racing events since 1962. American drivers such as A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, Parnelli Jones and Stan Fox all have competed in New Zealand.

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Infiniti Pro Series participants enjoy Tunerfest: Infiniti Pro Series participants Matt Beardsley and Troy Hanson took part in the second annual Euro Tunerfest GP on Sept. 28-29, 2002 at Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, Calif. Conceived by Claus Ettensberger, the Euro Tunerfest is a two-day event devoted to the art and love of high-performance European cars.

Hanson, general manager for CGF Racing, and Beardsley, who drives for Beardsley Motorsports, served as driving instructors for the Euro Tunerfest's celebrity attendees. Some of Hollywood's hottest young actors participated in the event, including Goran Visnjic ("ER"), brothers Danny ("That 70's Show") and Chris Masterson ("Malcolm in the Middle") and Jacob Young ("General Hospital"). 2001 Long Beach Toyota Pro/Celebrity race winner Tom Rudnai also participated in the event.

"It was a lot of fun teaching these guys this track," Hanson said. "Most of them have racing experience in one form or another, so the learning curve was quick, and they weren't holding back, either."

Beardsley agreed. "I was impressed with everyone's driving abilities," he said. "Everyone used their heads and drove to their and the cars' ability. I can't wait until next year."

***

The name game: So how did MK Racing decide upon the name Falcon Cars for its new Indy Racing League chassis for 2003?

The 7-year-old grandson of co-owner Ken Anderson named it.

"That was a funny story," co-owner Michael Kranefuss said. "Actually we had to buy it from Ken's grandson. He came in one day and said the fastest animal in the world is the peregrine falcon. In order that I wouldn't run into any legal problems from him, we did a contract, and I bought the rights from him for $100."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Billy Boat , Parnelli Jones , Goran Visnjic , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Aaron Fike , Matt Beardsley , Troy Hanson , A.J. Fike , Tom Rudnai , A.J. Foyt , Johnny Rutherford